Transitioning from Active Duty? Like television and the movies, but wish the military-theme was more real-life? Have a skill and want to get into the high-tech industry?
When a friend, one-time co-worker, and fellow Navy Reservist told me of his experience acting, with minor parts in television and film, I was interested. He said Hollywood needs military veterans to consult and to help lend realism to the shows and movies. One of my favorite actors, R Lee Ermy did do that pretty well.
But what about off-camera? How do you find technical work with the studios, animators, and creative genius that create spectacular visual effects? I imagine that one way is through the active and popular employment search engines and services online. And there are apparently at least one organization that support and recruit veterans for many functions in Hollywood and the industry.
If anyone knows others, is member of, or would like to be featured, contact me. It would be fascinating to learn more about careers and opportunities for transitioning military and experienced veterans.
Reading some of my old letters my late mother kept in her scrapbook, I appreciate jogging memories of my initial service in the Navy forty years ago. At the time, I was stuck in limbo, waiting on orders, waiting on a medical evaluation, and bored. I had spent eighteen months training for a career as an electronics technician in San Diego, in Illinois, in Florida and again in San Diego. When I had received an opportunity to attend the Naval Academy, a medical evaluation accompanying the selection board was possibly going to prevent that. In the meantime, I was assigned to support a correctional unit on Naval Training Center San Diego, to guard and escort sailors confined and others pending transfer to the Naval Brig.
“January 13 1978
I was paid this morning and I have finally got some money in my pocket after being in the depths of poverty for the last week. I’ve been keeping a budget book to account for every penny. Setting aside a $120 to send to you to save for me, I spent most of my last paycheck on a stereo receiver and headphones. I got a great deal as the stereo store said it was a trade-in and not brand-new.
I have been chugging away at BE & E. My Learning Supervisor is better at getting the material across to me than reading the book. And I am frustrated at the computer based training – that I am taking remedial tests every time.
Next weekend I am thinking of the YMCA’s military special to Disneyland – everything including bus ride and ticket, for $14.75…. “
When I read these letters I recall that my focus was split between very difficult technical training, spending money slower than earning it, having a good time, and the things a sailor thinks about: cars, girls, staying out of trouble, and so on. And taking care of my mom.
“February 18, 1978
…it’s been a week since I was home for that short visit…. I’m expecting to finish BE and E School (Basic Electricity and Electronics) in seven working days and then ice and snow! (I was scheduled to transfer for further training at the Great Lakes NTC north of Chicago) I have been trying to spend money and save it at the same time….
I bought two books ” How to Buy Stocks” and “How to Build a Fortune Investing in Land””
“July 3 1978
Class 7825C, ET/A school Bldg 520, Great Lakes Training Center: Thunder and lightning this weekend. Thank you for the ever-increasing moral support. It helps this “screw-up” when I seem to be trying and trying over these multiple -choice tests and I miss the question because I don’t put down my first choice but over think them! Why can’t I learn! Some solace in that I got my PO3 raise today. A whole $10.
Congratulations on your new friend and you both seem to be on the same “astral plane”. And my little sister has a boyfriend! She is growing up fast. I ran into a friend who is very close to a bachelors degree having taking a lot of courses through the CLEP tests. He’s looking at Officer Candidate School and making some career-connections with several officers involved in the program. He’s shared with me several of the courses and tests to take should the Annapolis thing not get accepted. Studying electronics harder will give me a mental breakdown. I need some thing different.
I looked at that Naval Academy application. I think they want someone who is a cross between O.J. Simpson and Albert Einstein, not me!”
In the year between my initial training in San Diego, and returning back to San Diego, I had been undergoing technical training and screening for a government security clearance. Between the training, standing watches, and liberty in Chicago and Milwaukee, I was also trying to figure out if I could afford a TransAm like one in the movie Smokey and the Bandit. It was nearly eleven thousand dollars. I couldn’t. I did learn a lot about weather. Playing pool in the barracks. Guys who were playing some role-playing fantasy called Dungeons and Dragons. A summer music festival at the Navy Pier in Chicago. And working on cars. Being in the best physical shape of my life while in Pensacola, Florida. Running several miles a few times a week that started from a dare between roommates in the barracks while attending CT – school. A circuit of the base, inside the fence was about four miles. We would run it twice a night.
“Letter dated August 2 – 5, and 8, 1979
It’s the second day of August, and in one day following the
most insane twenty-four hours I have yet spent at TPU (ed: Transient Personnel Unit), I think I shall be ready for the funny
farm very soon.
Let me tell you some of the the goings-on at our “Hotel California”. Yesterday, we got a new boatload of lunies (sic) plus one who is trying to put one over on us that he’s nuts, and he is getting my goat.
Another case is my boss Chief Heller. His retiring soon and he continues to drop in
on Bldg 23 if only to holler and cuss everyone.
It is just as if he’s giving out a daily dose of castor oil.
Still another example was last night’s supposed-to-work-flawlessly relief of the day watch. A PO1(Petty Officer First Class) who knew he had duty never showed up, and despite all my efforts couldn’t be found anywhere on-base. No one knew who I was looking for- even though he was supposedly assigned to the same working area! So, as a result, an overworked PO2, a good friend of mine, was forced to stay all night as well as his morning workday.
In addition, I was forced to work late (a 13-hour day) which
it turns out shall be my regular working hours.
It was either that or work 10 hours plus have an extra watch in TPU
every three days.
Today was continued insanity when, in the early afternoon, one of our “mental” cases went berserk and smashed a wood-covered (barricaded) window with a chair. He demanded to go to the brig or he would do more damage! It’s a good thing I don’t sleep there- I don’t know if some night I might get my throat cut by one of these scumbags.
Tonight I went to the PO Club with two friends, George, who works in the NTC Police/Decal Office, and June who also works there. We all had a good time. But what occurred later is interesting. Well, June got very drunk, I was sober and George nearly so. June had to be talked into being escorted to her barracks. George (who went with her) in her car and I followed behind in mine. June wandered all over the road at speed and I sped up to catch her. And out of the dark an NTC (Naval Training Center) police vehicle pulled ME over. Luckily, he was a friend but since I was “rocketing along” at 20 or 30 MPH, he wouldn’t let me drive back to TPU. A quarter-mile walk later I was sober; June was the one all over the road – I’m sure the cop saw her. That will be the last of my “good Samaritan” gestures.
August 5, 1979
Yesterday I finally bought the 10-speed bicycle I was [going to get you] shopping two weeks. I’m sure you will love it, as a matter of fact I wanted to buy one for myself from the same people. Now I have only one detail to work out and that is how to get it home. Two possibilities are open to me, but I don’t know how much it will cost me to ship it, so if you don’t mind I am going to wait till I hand-deliver it.
In other news I have been heartened by a lot of mail, especially yours and from Nana, but I’m going through a lot of ups and downs. I’m almost at the end of my rope as far as this Restriction/ CC (Correctional Custody) “babysitter” job goes. Today I got yelled at for these a@#$@#$ goofing off even as I have been trying to imitate Attila the Hun with them .
I’m starting another entry in the ‘journal’ after putting the
pen down for two days. I am just putting down thoughts as they come to mind. My
mind is awfully screwed being run ragged.
I think I will drop this topic in favor of other topics to ramble on
Tomorrow I’ll begin packing a few things for the trip to San Francisco and I’m going to hopefully make a weekend out of it. What is your reaction to the earthquake this week? It think it is about time for the city to fall into the sea?
It’s all a bit tedious. I’ll hopefully be home sooner or later. “
These letters bring back some of the missing names – and the memory -recalling the faces of those Chiefs at TPU. These memories seem as fresh as having occurred yesterday. The more I recall of those months in school, in training, and time at the transient barracks, I am amused by the complaining, angst, self-righteousness, stubbornness, and shock of having to work long hours. In this particular letter, the reference to “Hotel California” my mother probably would have missed – her musical taste was stuck in the early 1960s and she never heard of the Eagles. But I was fortunate that my mother, who pursued a second career as a college English teacher around that time, and worked a full-time nursing job, never pointed out my ‘overworked’ complaints. As I look back after forty years of military and civilian jobs – on my youngest co-workers and their peers – their complaints about fairness, working conditions, and emotional safe-spaces are more their age than something “we” never did.
For me, if I have done my duty, the continued approbation of Congress and the Marine Committee will make me rich indeed, and far more than reward me for a life of service devoted from principles of philanthropy, to support the dignity of human nature. John Paul Jones
when you tire of the b#@@s&!t
In recent months I have been thinking of retiring – again. A few of my civilian friends do not want to retire because they associate it with an early demise. A few of my industry peers cannot retire because they have expenses that they cannot afford without working. But other friends, military retirees, private sector employees, businessmen and other with thirty years or more years in the state or federal system, decided they were financially, and mentally, ready to retire and did so. Of course, an important consideration for retiring, besides financial security, is having interests that keep a retiree involved. While a boat sounds tempting to while away time in my old age, I think I will prefer buying a ticket to go cruising rather than paying for maintenance and dock fees.
making good choices
I am rather fortunate in that I have a portion of my retirement plan based on a twenty-six year career in the Navy. While a little more than half was spent on Active Duty, the remainder – and in fact, on the date I retired, I was a Selected Reservist. For the twenty years that have preceded my turning sixty and eligibility for retirement pay, I have been working in the private sector, accumulating 401K investments and paying down a home in California. Much of this has been supported and augmented by my spouse having a well-paying career. And putting off “keeping up with the Joneses” that so many others have fallen into. From studying and application from numerous financial educators, advisers, and both good and poor examples in your ‘circle’, almost everyone who plans carefully from their earliest working years – or with arduous self-denial and fiscal obsessiveness in later, higher-salaried years can retire with some degree of security.
war, sea duty and broken service
I applied to go back on Active Duty, in the same rating I had originally entered the service in the late 1970s. For the next thirteen years, I had traveled the world, but the bureaucracy and politics regarding advancement opportunities and changing personal goals inspired a change. I left the service at the end of my enlistment in 2000. But a few months later, I enlisted (again) in the Navy Reserve! To sum it up, I retired with almost 26 years of service as a Senior Chief Cryptologic Maintenance Technician,. But as a Reservist, the retirement system is calculated not to pay the retiree until he or she turns 60 years of age.
Second, the retiree must file for her retirement stipend on or after age sixty. The unique feature of Reserve retirement, is that the service member who is eligible for and requests retirement after 20 good years – the Navy sends a statement to each member when they have qualified – can transfer to the Retired Reserve without pay until age 60. Retirement is calculated as though the member continues to remain on the service rolls. The retirement calculator uses the Active Duty member’s base pay – in effect for their final paygrade – at the time one starts drawing payment. One other caveat determining the pay calculation is whether the service member entered military service initially prior to September 1, 1980. Those retired Reserve members like me, will receive their pay calculation based on the paygrade held at the time of retirement. All enlistees after September, 1980 retire have their pay calculated from the last three years of service regardless of their final pay grade, divided by 36 months.
Additionally, when a service member retires, it is worth all the bureaucratic tape, to file for review by the Veterans’ Administration for any potential Service-Connected Disability rating. Even a finding of a connection, but a rating of zero – the condition is not posing debilitation in health at the present time – is able to help those members through other benefits. In California, children of a service-connected disability -veteran or retiree, are eligible to attend a UC or CSU university-system school tuition-free.
For more information
DOD Military Reserve retirement compensation information
Navy Department website for Reserve Retirement. (Each service branch has similar sites.)
Application for retirement pay upon reaching age 60, DD Form 108
The one thing that a Navy career, and a subsequent life in an engineering industry, gave me is an appreciation for tools and their uses. As a result, I have been able to learn over years, homeowner maintenance skills that I have put to good use. Sometimes these skills are out of necessity and other times, as a result of being unwilling to hire a “professional” – who probably could do a particular task more efficiently but at a cost to my pride and wallet.
I learned that earlier in the year when my air conditioning system shut down unexpectedly. I inspected what I knew, but then found – when calling a serviceman – a dog-hair and dust-choked filter had caused a pressure switch to trip. At considerable expense for that lesson, I then decided I would research all my home systems for maintenance and repair information that I could reasonably do myself. Fast forward to this past week. All our large appliances in the kitchen have failed in turn over a few years. We were hanging on till we became “empty nesters” (the kids were extremely hard on our kitchen). We purchased new refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher. But because the last time I had replaced leaking water valves I wasn’t thinking what working appliances needed I had no means for the installation crew to hook up icemaker or the dishwasher. And the man the company sent to install my new microwave told my wife the unit had greater dimensions than the old one to be removed.
Of course, this was partially correct and partially, B.S. In the case of the microwave, the installer was likely tired, irritated or unmotivated to actually “look” at the unit. When my wife and I went back to the store – talking with the salesman also – the floor display was a HALF-INCH larger in depth and height than the original. It would have fit without any modifications! But the installer took the new unit away with him. I still need to get him back. As for the line to connect the dishwasher, apparently the issue was a little more complicated. Because the stock water line was four feet shorter than required (new kitchen have the dishwasher next to the sink and not adjacent like my 1960’s-design) a new hose about ten feet in length is needed.
I put the new dual-outlet valves on the existing pipes under the sink so I would not totally foul-up Thanksgiving plans my wife had. The cobbled together work leaked requiring a big roaster pan catch basin, and frequent draining for the past few days. That is where my love for tools, an engineering sense, and YouTube comes in. Today while my family was out of the house, I removed a stubborn piece of copper pipe under the sink and then brazed on a new section. A few technical difficulties resolved by a quick visit to the hardware store – for some advice, a section of flame-proof cloth for welding; I also borrowed my son’s fire extinguisher at his insistence – and after a couple tries: Success. With full water pressure back on this evening there have been no leaks and no desperate calls for a plumbing contractor on a holiday weekend.
Both dogs, Dexter and Comet – who normally hang around at my elbow ALL the time I am in the kitchen – were NOWHERE to be seen. Maybe they didn’t want to be witnesses to me setting myself on fire?
Every November, my friends and I go (tent) camping in Yosemite National Park before the first snow. All of us are members of the same church in San Diego, but more than just “members”, we all make an effort to be united as Brothers, in Christ. This is more than just a Sunday worship service, or playing a game of Mexican Train together in a warm room of a Yosemite Valley hotel. We have each others’ back and watch out for each other.
While my spiritual brothers and I share a bond of common faith, it is not the same as the brothers – and sisters I have served alongside in the military. For twenty-six years, I wore the uniform and swore my allegiance to serve the Constitution and nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. And through several conflicts, long deployments, and looking out for families while others were deployed in war zones, all were responsibilities my peers and I shouldered. Many of us spent holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries away from loved ones.
While we give thanks for all the blessings we have in this life, these do not come without responsibilities to act justly, practice gratitude, give generously, and to treat others with respect. As military veterans and patriotic citizens, we are also compelled to stand against those who would tear down what we have worked – some at the risk of bloodshed – to preserve.
So on this Thanksgiving holiday, I think of all that my family has been experiencing this past year. I have gratitude for my God, and my fellow veterans and their families. Whether we are serving together now in the army of Christ, or served ( or still serving) in the uniform of our country. May you have a safe and joyful holiday.
In many countries, the eleventh of November is remembered as Veterans’ Day, the day honoring military veterans of all conflicts. However, many hold it as a day of remembrance and not a public holiday. A century ago, this was the day the Allies and Germany signed the armistice ending World War I. The Armistice went into effect during the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919 formally ended hostilities.
What do you hold as the most valuable “thing” in your life? More to the point, what is worth risking the exchange of your life or health: Ideas? Reputation? Property? Human rights and dignity? The lives of your loved ones? Man has been fighting and dying for millennia over territory, religion, and to fight for, or to prevent someone else’s desire for power and conquest. In the last century, the world went to war to prevent genocide, to oppose totalitarian rule, and to secure ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ – ideals enshrined in America. When a continent is plunged into war as Europe was, in 1914, by the war machine of the Kaiser, or in 1939, when Hitler’s Germany annexed its neighbors and started to systematically enslave and exterminate people, alliances called up armies. For the last eighteen years, the premeditated attack upon civilians against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the fear generated by using commercial aircraft and hostage passengers as weapons motivated several nations to rise against them. Sadly, military men and women, ours and the nationals being trained still bleed and die in ‘suicide bombings’ by agents secreted among them in Afghanistan and elsewhere. For a century and more, the attack upon civilians, whether the sinking of passenger liners by Germany in the First War, or civilian and military targets at Pearl Harbor in 1941 or on 9/11 propelled our nation to defend our citizens and the right to freely travel and trade abroad.
On Veterans’ Day, we remember those who sacrificed their future for ours. Many of those who recognize and remember loved ones particularly on this day have stories to tell. And as far as I have learned about my forebears, in almost every generation I have so far traced, a young man – or in the last half-century, woman relative – has served as a soldier, sailor, or marine. A hundred and some years ago, the War to End all Wars, World War I, was raging in Europe. And one of my distant relatives, a young man in his late teens, gave his life in a bloody battlefield in Belgium.
Edwin Blow Kertland, was the nephew of his namesake, one of the Blow family in what is now Northern Ireland. The Blow family whom I trace one branch of my maternal ancestry, for nearly three hundred years had been merchants and businessmen. In Britain, for hundreds of years, the gentry passed property down from eldest son to eldest son. The younger sons were apprenticed to learn a trade and make their fortunes, some went into ministry, and others into the army or went to sea as crewmen on merchant ships.
Edwin Kertland went into military school and earned a commission in the second decade of the Twentieth Century. An assassination and political alliances plunged the world into war the resulting scale of carnage – in toll of lives – still sets a painful bar. Nearly seventeen million people, ten million military and seven million civilians died, and another twenty million were gravely injured as a result of the conflict. The war pitted men serving the Kaiser and their allies against other Europeans, the British Empire and Americans. Poison gas, mechanized artillery (tanks), aerial bombardment (aircraft), trench warfare, and other weapons technology changed the efficacy with which men can harm each other. Along with millions of youthful Britons, Frenchmen. Americans, Russians, Germans and their allies, the horror of war killed him. He was nineteen.
To the cynic there is no solution to the periodic hatreds that flare between people, and prudently, they prepare, train, and arm themselves to protect home and homeland. And there will be those who are willing to put on the uniform of their nation to defend against tyranny, or more personally, to defend their comrades fighting alongside them in the trenches.
There’s kind of a Zen aspect to bowling. The pins are either staying up or down before you even throw your arm back. It’s kind of a mind-set. You want to be in this perfect mind-set before you released the ball. – Jeff Bridges
My church has started an outreach and special support ministry for Active and former military veterans and their families. Supporting the deployed Sailors and Marines, serving their families in the area, and sharing the Word of God with others is a privilege. Cutting up at the bowling alley on the Naval Base is just pure family fun.
There are things I thought about when we first talked about going bowling as a first “activity” for our growing group. An odd cult movie I watched twenty years ago, “the Big Lebowski”, which starred Jeff Bridges and among many inappropriate themes in that film was a lot of bowling. Just thinking about it, I have to repent again!
But bowling or pool or darts were a few of the activities that I could join and never get overly concerned about my lack of skill and just enjoy the friendship. Probably a couple dozen times over forty years I’ve been to bowling alleys, half of the time while in the Navy and the other half, as a teen, or as a post-forty year old adult family man with other families in our church fellowship. However, this was the first time we gathered to bowl as part of a “military ministry”.
Most, well all, of us absolutely stunk as bowlers. But we know from scripture, where two or more followers of Jesus are gathered, He is with us. So I have some hope that Jesus will help us with our game. Whether knocking down pins or gaining new friends and saving a few souls in the process.